Samskrta-Subodhini: A Sanskrit Primer marks the culmination of Professor Deshpande's experience of teaching Sanskrit at the University of Michigan for over twenty-five years. Tested in classes at Michigan and elsewhere and successively improved for over twenty years, the teaching materials in the book now offer an effective tool to learn and teach Sanskrit. It aims at teaching Sanskrit as a language, rather than as a religious or mystical entity. It also simplifies the process of learning Sanskrit by dissociating this language-learning process from the heavy burdens imposed both by the tradition of Indo-European linguistics and the tradition of indigenous Sanskrit grammarians in India. By treating Sanskrit as a productive language, rather than as a dead language merely to be deciphered, the book represents a significant advance over the traditional Western approach to the study of Sanskrit.
Work on this book began in 1976, and now almost two generations of Professor Deshpande's students have used successively improved versions. The book's examples include many modified versions of classical Sanskrit passages from epic texts such as The Mahabharata and The Ramayana. The book also contains examples from Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions, as well as samples of Sanskrit poetry and satire.
Madhav M. Deshpande is Professor of Sanskrit and Linguistics in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan, where he has been on the faculty since 1972. His research relates to the fields of Paninian linguistics, historical linguistics, and sociolinguistics, as well as the cultural and linguistic history of India. Besides his research publications, Professor Deshpande has participated in Sastric and literary debates in Sanskrit and has also published Sanskrit poems and plays.